SingTel posts first-ever fall in interim profits

National carrier Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) announced Friday that profit for the six months ended September 30 fell 3 per cent to $911.3 million on revenues down 4.3 per cent. This marks the company's first fall in interim profit since it was publicly listed in 1993.

Chairman Koh Boon Hwee said in a statement that second-half results were likely to be even weaker due to seasonal factors and the need to cut rates even further in the face of increased competition.

Revenue from international and mobile telephone services fell, while Internet and data services showed strong revenue growth, SingTel said.

Contributions from joint ventures and associated companies jumped 49 per cent to $178.6 million, most coming from Belgacom of Belgium, Advanced Info Service of Thailand and Globe Telecom of the Philippines. Overseas investments contributed 14.2 per cent of the group's pre-tax profit compared to 9.3 per cent last year, SingTel said.

SingTel faces open competition in the Internet market in Singapore, and will face added competition in the mobile phone market and its first direct competition in fixed-line telephone services in April next year when the international StarHub consortium begins operations in Singapore.

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